In recent weeks I have seen a number of news articles on social media discussing the potential of the Great British Sewing Bee not returning to our screens this spring for a 5th series. When I first saw these I didn’t really think much of them but upon further research it would appear there is no guarantee it will return. I have watched the Sewing Bee from day one as I’m sure many people have and it saddens me it may not be coming back for another series.
The last series of the Sewing Bee finished in July 2016 amassing around 3 million viewers each week, however the penultimate episode only saw about 2.6 million tuning in compared to the 3.5 million who tuned in for the first episode. It was expected that a call for casting for the 5th series would be put out in September of last year, however no call was made leading people to wonder whether it would be back. This coupled with the strained relationship between the BBC and Love Productions (who produce both the Sewing Bee and The Great British Bake Off) after the Bake Off moved to Channel 4, does make you wonder what will happen. Could the Sewing Bee have the same fate as the Bake Off?! This leads to the question as to whether another channel might pick up the Sewing Bee given it has much lower viewings than the Bake Off.
However, the BBC haven’t said either way with a spokesman stating ‘The BBC has not recommissioned it… We have not put a casting call for contestants. No decision has been made on its future yet.’ But insiders from the BBC have suggested that the show is unlikely to return for a 5th series and that the BBC is keen to make a clean break from the Great British franchise. That being said the second series of the Great Pottery Throw Down began in the first week of February…
So what was so great about the Great British Sewing Bee? Well firstly it made people realise they could make their own clothes and not be limited by the selection they found in the shops. Viewers began to realise they could make their own clothes exactly how they wanted them to be, to fit them perfectly rather than be limited by the design, colour and size available on the high street.
The Sewing Bee also made people realise that anyone could take up the hobby with some of the contestants having only learnt to sew a few years previously. There was no need for prior experience, no need for your Grandma to have taught you when you were little and no need to go to classes to learn, you could learn from home for free in your own time! With the internet full of tutorials and instructions to make the most simple skirt or pouch to the more elaborate cocktail dress, there’s only the need to spend money on the fabric once a machine has been invested in! From here you can make anything, once you’ve learnt the basics the sewing world is your oyster! Each series had a book which came out after the series with instructions and patterns to make some of the items contestants made in the pattern challenge each week. This book provided people with the ability to make something they had seen being made on TV and providing someone with the ability to do this is magical.
Another thing I loved about the sewing bee were the range of contestants. There were people of every age, from the retired generations to mothers and fathers right down to young adults. Both genders were represented for nearly every age group across the last four series. It showed viewers than anyone could sew, it wasn’t just a feminine hobby anymore, it showed men who were hugely talented at designing and creating unique clothing – something anyone could do with a bit of time and effort.
It is for these reasons that it saddens me that the future of the Great British Sewing Bee is hanging in the balance, it is such an important player in encouraging more people to pick up the hobby of sewing and experience the enjoyment and excitement of making their own clothes.